By Matthew Barnard, Swimming World College Intern.
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers had a strong showing last weekend at the 2016 AT&T Winter National Championships. The women’s team led by junior Brooke Zeiger, who snagged wins in the 400 medley and 1,650 freestyle, took first place in all but one relay (200 freestyle relay). On the men’s side sophomore Bowe Becker is one to look out for come championship season having won the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle in Atlanta.
Head Coach Kelly Kremer is happy with the progress his team has made thus far. “I like where we’re at right now,” Kremer said, “going into the weekend I was really confident that it was going to go well.”
However Kremer still believes there is far more in the tank for the Gophers this season. “We’re a better team right now, and a more prepared team I think moving into the championship season then we were a year ago,” Kremer said.
Last year the Gopher women finished third in the Big Ten and 16th nationally. The men were fourth in the Big Ten and 20th at NCAA’s.
Last weekend, Zeiger’s performance in the 1,650 set a new University of Minnesota and Big Ten record with a time of 15:44.00. The junior said that although she came down in yardage the week prior, much of her success was due to eagerness. “We were excited, Kelly got us pumped up and he really wanted us to swim fast,” Zeiger said.
Zeiger’s finals time is the second fastest in the NCAA this season behind Katie Ledecky‘s 15:03.92 at the Ohio State Invitational in November. Having posted that time will give Zeiger the opportunity to swim the 1,650 at night at the Big Ten Conference Championships unlike previous years. “I’m excited that I’ll be able to race the top milers in the Big Ten and then set myself up to race against the top milers in the country,” Zeiger said.
Becker is proving to be one of the strongest sprinters in the Big Ten and NCAA after joining the Gophers last season. In Atlanta Becker led Minnesota in freestyle and medley relays but stood out in his individual events claiming two national titles.
Kremer thinks that this is only the beginning of what we can expect to see from Becker. “I think whatever Bowe wants to accomplish is in his reach,” Kremer said, “I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
Becker was pleased with his finals times of 19.67 (50 freestyle) and 42.87 (100 freestyle) but said much of his success is due to his support network. “I practice with some of the hardest working teammates and we have some of the best coaches here at Minnesota working with us and keeping us on track,” Becker said.
The Golden Gophers will be a team to watch come February/March according to Kremer. “We have high goals for both our women’s and our men’s teams and we are fully capable of being much better then we were a year ago,” Kremer said.
Full results from the 2016 AT&T Winter Nationals can be found here.